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What Is SQL and Why Does It Matter for Small Businesses?

What Is SQL and Why Does It Matter for Small Businesses?

Data is the lifeblood of many businesses, and SQL is a programming language that helps make effective use of databases, so it should be obvious that it is worth investigating and embracing no matter the size of your organization.

Of course this ringing endorsement is not enough on its own to convince newcomers that they should adopt SQL-powered database solutions, so here is a slightly deeper dive into the topic to bring you up to speed and bring you round to the benefits available for small businesses.

SQL – an Overview

Structured query language is designed to help organize, retrieve, and transform data. A database which uses it can be seen as a step up from a standard spreadsheet, as while information is stored in a superficially similar way, it is far more scalable and flexible.

This means that small businesses that are starting to find Excel too restrictive should definitely migrate across to an SQL server instead. You can use it to do almost anything, from running a website to keeping tabs on your stock levels, and as this introductory guide explains, it is also a powerful tool for moving and transforming data in a host of other contexts.

The language itself relies on queries written using English terms to wrangle the data in whatever way you see fit, so it is not as complex or impenetrable as other programming languages. Even so, most businesses will want to get expert assistance when investing in an SQL database.

Software Options Explained

Part of the flexibility of SQL, and why it is appealing to small businesses, comes down to the fact that there is not just one database solution that uses it, but a whole host of varied options, some of which are entirely free to use.

Microsoft’s SQL Server, for example, may come in paid-for iterations, but its basic variant does not require any kind of payment from users, meaning that it is a great way for up and coming companies to see whether this type of database is right for them.

Then there are entirely open-source counterparts like MySQL, which could be a sensible choice for businesses that are looking to retain complete control over how the software and hardware of their database function in tandem with one another.

Long Term Benefits Investigated

Ultimately it is important for businesses to think about the long term implications of how they collect, store, and manage the data for which they are responsible, and it is better to act sooner rather than later if it seems like you might be on the path to getting snowed under by information based on your current resource usage.

SQL and the database services which use it can give companies that all-important future-proofing of their information storage that will allow them to grab the opportunities presented to them. There are other database platforms to consider, but it is tough to debate the potency or popularity of SQL.

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by Harvey Carr // Harvey Carr is a contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.